Confessions of a Former Judgmental Christian: How I Retired My Gavel and Robe

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by Amber Wright

I was baptized for the first time when I was eight years old in a small Baptist church in my hometown. Every Sunday, a kind, elderly woman from our church named Mrs. Willis would come to pick us up, because we didn’t have a car. She was super sweet and always promised to give my sister and I candies on the way home if we behaved.  Those were good old days of frilly socks, patent leather shoes and reciting Easter speeches. Good times.

My family moved to a new state not too long after I was baptized and never attended church regularly after that. It wasn’t until my college years that I began to explore my faith and understand what having a relationship with God really meant. From that new understanding, I made the decision to get baptized again when I was twenty one. God and I have been tight ever since.

I learned a lot about myself and Christ during that season. I was young, impressionable and trying to find my way. Although I was growing spiritually, the culture of the environment I was in was that of a never ending quest of Christ-like perfection and quiet condemning of those that fell short on those efforts.  I started to become a product of that environment, and became highly judgmental of others around me.

The “quiet condemning” I am referring to was essentially the glare of judgment through spiritual stunna-shades. It looked a bit like this:

The salty looks of disapproval at the pregnant, unwed woman or teenager

The slight shaking of the head at the sistah walking down the middle aisle of the sanctuary in her lap-cloth-needing-too-short-skirt

The chatter of gossip about someone else, disguised in faux prayer requests

Admittedly, I did all of those things. I’m not proud of it, but I’m also not ashamed to say it because I know that I’m not that way anymore. I understand that Christianity is a religion not without rules and edicts that we should follow. There are things that are required of us who follow Christ – and we should certainly do our best to follow those instructions. However, I have also noticed that we often use our personal interpretations of the Bible as a measuring stick for who is better, holier and more righteous than the next person.

As I have made my transition into mature womanhood, I have retired my robe and gavel as a judgmental Christian.

I have lived enough of life to know that it is not my place to look down on anyone for the decisions they make; be they a fellow church member or stranger on the street. What I am here to do is get this Word planted in my heart and live a life that offers the comforting shade that the love of God provides  to my fellow brothers and sisters – not throw shade at them.

Because honestly, who has the time?

We all have our own lives to live. Our own problems. Our own struggles.  Our own reasons why we need Jesus.

So instead of worrying about how folks are managing their issues (or, ahem, what they wear), I’m here to extend my hand and  say, “I feel you. I’ve been there. God loves the both of us, despite how raggedy we can be sometimes – so let’s keep it pushin’ and do better next time!”

One would think that notion would have been completely obvious to me back then. But if you have been in the church long enough, it is likely that you have witnessed first-hand how judgmental people can be, hiding under the umbrella of righteousness.  There’s so much worry about how we look in front of others, that we forget who it really is that we have to stand before on judgment day.

If you have ever been on the receiving end of spiritual shade, please allow me to say to you, on behalf of whoever may have hurt you: “I am sorry.”

My goal is to live each day in a way that inspires others to make the changes they need to in their lives and encourage them into believing that they can, when they are ready. I don’t have to be a holy Judge Judy impersonator to do that.

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